Octopus’ Garden in the Shade

7/5/18 13:42 w/ Amanda Anderson

44min | 57°F (min) 61°F (max) | 19ft (avg) 26ft (max) | 15/50 dives for the year


When Amanda mentioned she had Thursday off and I realized I was going to be stuck on a boat for a few weeks (at that point I only thought it was gonna be two…not the almost six that it is now!), so I requested the day off and off we went to the Gloucester/Rockport area. High tide was at 17:15, so we decided to do an easy sandy beach shore dive first and tackle the rocky entrance of Folly Cove second.

Old Garden Beach is located in a very scenic Rockport – we lucked out with parking and managed to get a spot RIGHT in front of the beach entrance. Something that is only allowed Monday-Friday. After gearing up, it was a relatively short walk down a gangplank, onto the sand, and into the water. We had high hopes upon getting into the water…it looked REALLY CLEAR. And it did not disappoint! Throughout the dive we easily had 25+ feet of visibility, which is considered awful if you’re a warm water diver, but considered pretty spectacular for New Englanders.

Neither one of us had been to this site before and there weren’t too many writeups on it. So we decided to just head out across the sand until we reached the rock reef I’d read about (people said it existed…but not how to reach it). After about ten minutes of playing around with the crabs, I saw a darkness up ahead…a few faster fin kicks later and there it was! A BEAUTIFUL display of greens, reds, and browns algaes. Right on the edge where the sand met the rocks, I spotted a skate! This was dive 141, and until then, I’ve probably seen five or six ever. So I’m always pretty pumped when I see them (little did I know I’d see five or six on this day alone!).

I was wearing my Fourth Element 7mm, which is super warm, but opted to go hoodless. Totally fine until we ventured into the reef, around the 25 foot mark a cold current came whipping around…I was fine, but my ears protested! So we simply headed up a few feet and into the warmer water. With the visibility we had we didn’t have to be right on top of things to see it. haha. The boulders and rocks were teeming with crabs while fish swim in and around them (while trying to avoid those bubble breathers who make alot of noise). Under them, lobsters hid in their spots until something swam by…then they either jumped out atcha or squirmed even further away. As we neared the 30 minute mark, I took us back to the line between the rocks and the sand, hoping to spy another skate. And I did! haha. Along with some more crabs, Winter Flounder, and Cunner. We continued to follow the divide until we reached the beach. Then after striping our gear off, we headed to Folly Cove!


 

7/5/18 15:47 w/ Amanda Anderson

50min | 52°F (min) 59°F (max) | 19ft (avg) 29ft (max) | 16/50 dives for the year

By the time we arrived at Folly Cove, the tide had risen just enough for the entrance to be relatively easy. Rocky shores are beautiful until you’re trying to walk over them with 80lbs of gear on your back. As soon as we got in the water, I knew visibility would not be as grand as OGB. I’d give it an average for New England diving, but not as good as it can normally be. We started off along the rocks on the right side as I’d never done that path; turned out to be very underwhelming as far as wildlife goes. So after about ten minutes, I signaled that it was time to cross the cove. HOLY SAND DOLLAR BED. They stretched in all directions as far as the eye could see. We lazily made our way over them, stopping here and there to take photos. Came across a few more skates (one of which I followed after for a bit). Finally I could see the murky shadow of the wall looming in front of us. Covered in brightly colored sessile critters, it boasted Green Urchins, Northern Star Fish, tunicates, barnacles, and more. It’s one of those spots where you can hang by a square meter for a few minutes and find new things to see.

I had decided to go down an exposure level and wore my 5mm suit, but this time with a hood. Not a poor decision, but it was definitely a few solid degrees colder at Folly than at OGB. After exploring the wall for a bit, we turned around and headed back to the shore. Moon Snails, crabs, and flounder impeded our journey a little (cuz neither one of us could pass up a good photo), so I was definitely a little cold by the time we reached the shore. However, the 80+ degree air warmed me up in no time at all! Thankful for a fantastic day of diving before heading off to the Gulf for a few weeks. Cheers!

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